TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for Kansas secretary of state are embroiled in a bitter campaign in which the incumbent is questioning his challenger’s GOP credentials while himself being labeled as a partisan hack.
Incumbent Kris Kobach is seeking a second term after making headlines for fighting illegal immigration on a national scale by defending laws that get tough with undocumented immigrants, The Kansas City Star reported.
Kobach considers his challenger, Scott Morgan, a Democrat disguised as a Republican and has hinted that Morgan should leave the Republican Party.
Morgan, a former Lawrence school board member, counters that Kobach has turned the secretary of state’s office into a circus in pursuit of his own political agenda.
Kobach won passage of a controversial new voter identification law in Kansas and challenged the federal government over gun regulations by pushing a law whose constitutionality has been challenged in court. He also linked up with rocker Ted Nugent in 2011 to lobby for shooting wild hogs from helicopters in Texas.
“He’s arguably the most activist secretary of state Kansas has ever seen,” said University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis.
Kobach is unflinching in his defense of the causes he has taken up since being secretary of state. He said the Kansas voter ID law was needed to prevent voter fraud, a claim disputed by critics who don’t believe fraud is widespread.
Kobach said it’s his choice if he wants to spend his free time playing golf, writing a legal brief or hanging out with a classic rock star.
Morgan chided Nugent’s Facebook endorsement of Kobach last month in which the singer described the incumbent as a “backstrap BloodBrother who’s a dear pig killin friend of mine.”
“The self-appointed guardian of state sovereignty needs to stop shooting pigs from helicopters in Texas with Ted Nugent and start focusing on his job in Kansas,” Morgan said in a statement.
Morgan acknowledges that he isn’t as conservative as Kobach, but said none of the partisan issues championed by the incumbent should relate to the secretary of state’s race.
Financially, Kobach has raised more money for his re-election campaign this year than Morgan and his possible foe in the general election, Democratic candidate Jean Schodorf, combined.
Kobach’s campaign filed a report Monday saying it raised almost $105,000 from January through July 24, in addition to the $125,000 he had at the start of the year. He spent less than $32,000, leaving him with more than $198,000.
Morgan entered the race in May and reported raising about $21,000. He spent less than $4,000, leaving him with $17,000 in cash.
Schodorf began the year with nearly $41,000 and raised almost $63,000 more. But she also spent almost $95,000, leaving her campaign with less than $9,000.